Meade Potato, which supplies potatoes and a variety of other products to major retailers, wanted to increase speeds from the 27 packs per minute of its existing equipment to closer to 50 due to increasing demand.
The Irish potato industry is worth €96 million to over 800 growers who produce around 500,000 tonnes annually. The industry is in a state of high vigilance following the recent outbreak of the bacterial disease Ring Rot in England.
In any case, the Ishida CCW-M-214/50-SS-GS was chosen as it is specifically designed to handle potatoes and other fruit and vegetables that require gentle and controlled handling.
The machine features a low angle reinforced dispersion table with concealed fixings, semi-flat radial feeder troughs with waterfall end and safe edges, and double opening hoppers with cushioned, easy down inserts ensure that the product moves quickly through the weigher without the risk of damage.
In addition, the gentle slope configuration of discharge chutes are designed to reduce the fall speed of the product and prevents the potatoes colliding, which further minimises bruising.
A ring shutter in the discharge chute stops the product briefly to create a gentle descent into the timing hopper. This ensures that the potatoes reach the packing machine in a compact dose to minimise product blockages and increase packing speeds. A urethane coating for the hopper gates and upper discharge chute reduces noise levels.
At Meade, the weigher operates in conjunction with a Sandiacre Bagmaker weighing potatoes into 1, 1.5, 2 and 2.5 kg bags.
"The Ishida weigher is ideal for our purposes," said Meade factory manager Rodney Kingston.
"As well as increased speed, it has also proved superior to our current equipment in many other respects. Features such as the special linings and reduced angles combine effective control with the gentlest of handling for the potatoes while maintaining high speeds. Weighing accuracy is also very impressive.
"Equally important, the weigher provides a wealth of production data, which can be easily accessed at the touch of button, enabling us to carefully monitor the entire packing process."
In addition to potatoes, the company is also using the weigher to pack onions and will shortly be using it for oranges as well.